Oct. 24--"CARRIE" (R)
CHLO GRACE MORETZ, JULIANNE MOORE
1.5 OUT OF 4 STARS
Young Chlo Grace Moretz does a nice job in the first two-thirds of this movie.
Her performance makes you care about Carrie, the teen character she portrays. This is a remake, and most of you probably know the story already, but the young actress generates plenty of sympathy as the cool kids make fun of her.
Other talented young actors portray the high school couple who care enough about Carrie to offer her a sympathy date to the prom.
But once the devastating punch line caps their cruel joke, this film becomes the perfect example of horrible excess.
Turns out this cute young outcast has crazy telekinetic powers. Carrie gets mad and gets even by destroying everything.
That's when the reason for the remake becomes clear. Special effects are so much better now, and they allow the director to do more than they could back when Sissy Spacek was Carrie.
Unfortunately, they go so hog wild with those effects that both the girl and the movie become silly caricatures. Such gratuitous carnage serves only to create a sense of dreamlike unreality.
The sympathy won by Carrie evaporates as she crushes, burns, crashes and demolishes every prom couple and teacher she can point her hands at.
In the original, viewers understood how her anger led to some destruction. In this remake, her unhinged gory rampage undermines the film's moral message.
Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content. 99 min. [MC, PV, RA]
"THE FIFTH ESTATE" (R)
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, DANIEL BR HL
2 OUT OF 4 STARS
Benedict Cumberbatch is interesting as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but the film wanders to the point of irrelevance.
Was Assange a hero, or a terrorist who got people killed?
The film leans a bit towards the latter, but suffers by not making a strong case one way or the other.
Rated R for language and some violence. 128 min. [PV]
"ESCAPE PLAN" (R)
SYLVESTER STALLONE, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, JIM CAVIEZEL, SAM NEILL
2.25 OUT OF 4 STARS
A good cast and some fun interactions between Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger manage to just barely elevate this movie into above-average territory.
The story is brutally simple. Stallone plays a prison consultant who tests security by going in as an inmate and trying to break out.
When he's stuck in a new super-prison--without the help he needs to escape--it's up to him and a fellow inmate (Schwarzenegger) to get themselves out.
It's not a movie that turns over new ground, but it isn't a bad way to get to the bottom of a bag of popcorn.
Rated R for violence and language throughout. 116 min. [MC, RA, RF]
"I'M IN LOVE WITH A CHURCH GIRL" (PG)
JA RULE, ADRIENNE BAILON
1.5 OUT OF 4 STARS
Is it possible for a filmmaker to take on religion without preaching to viewers?
Once again, the answer appears to be no. This time, it's a story about a once-bad man trying to change his life.
Religion can be a key part of a story, but it works better in a script that's not one long, plodding sermon.
Rated PG for thematic elements, violence, some suggestive content and brief language. 118 min. [RF]
(c)2013 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)
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